Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Book Review: The Martian

Grade: A+

This book is a genius thriller.  Pair excellent science with a hilarious astronaut, and it's irresistible. 

I mean it.  You can't believe how realistic the book is, and how the main character is always saying and thinking exactly what you would be.

This is not a spoiler, because you find this out on the first page - the book is about an American astronaut, Mark Watney, who gets stranded on Mars.

How do you survive on a planet in a research dome meant to last 30 days, when no one will be back for 4 years?

The twists and turns are unexpected and realistic.  The author didn't make up crazy things, he just studied mars really REALLY well to know what would naturally happen. 

There is a caveat to my recommendation.  There is a good amount of language in this book.  When a man thinks he's gonna die alone on another planet - he swears!  Mark Watney is the guy you want to be best friends with and invite over to BBQs at your house.  He is smart, funny, creative, down to earth, and just irreverent enough to make you laugh out loud over and over again.

You've been warned, and you've been also been teased with the promise of an amazingly awesome, fast paced, believable thriller.


(and read it before the movie with Matt Damon comes out)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Why I Stay a Mormon When Many Friends Have Left

Because It's True.

For the same reasons I stay married when it gets tough.  The same reasons I don't abandon my kids when it gets tough. 

If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently.

Being a Mormon does not "spark joy" every day.  Parenting doesn't either.  Some days are terrible.  Just like some days I don't like my work.  Some days I don't get along with my wife. 

Sometimes I am too tired to sing a goodnight song, or tell a story.  I really couldn't care less about which creature in SlugTerra has which superpower. 

It is the same at church.  I don't enjoy every lesson.  I don't get along with every member.  I don't always like fulfilling my callings.

Then why did I skip family breakfast everyday for 2 months to drive downtown to teach seminary when I knew no students were going to show up?

Because if you want something to last forever, you treat it differently. 

Christ really is the Son of God.  He really did live on earth, died for us, and was resurrected on the 3rd day.  He really did call prophets anciently, called Peter as a prophet after his earthly ministry, and since called Joseph Smith and successive prophets to continue His work.

Marriage can be eternal.  Families can be eternal.  The Gospel is eternal.

Why am I still a Mormon when many friends have left?

Because what others do has no influence on the Gospel being true or not.  It is true, so I strive to follow it.  If I fail or fall away - it's on me.  Just me.  Christ is the Savior, and this is His gospel, whether I follow it or not.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Book Review: Go Set a Watchman

Grade: A-

I have not read “To Kill a Mockingbird” in 20 years, and I remember very little about the book.
I refrained from reading it again because I wanted to see: can this book stand on it’s own?


This book is not what I expected.  I expected a somewhat entertaining story that eventually told us, “don’t be racist” and did it in a very convincing and poignant way. 
Lee did much more than that.  She let us love the people around us without jumping to crazy conclusions. 

She let us be good people without being perfect people.  She let us be heroes, who have real lives, and live in the real world.
Though the book was written in 1957, it feels as though it was written for our day.  It was written to teach us that Paula Deen is not a racist monster, and we can have heroes and role models who don’t meet the current public criteria of “appropriate.”
This is a fairly quick read, even though the book is not fast paced.  Lee did a wonderful job of developing characters and relationships so that the climax of the book is real.  The emotions and interactions are real and heartfelt because we know the back story of each character.

Lee took the time to teach vital life lessons, and through this book she taught them wonderfully.